Our artist of the month for September is the rapper Benezeri and just like we promised last Friday, today we shall be going through his 3 albums and getting to know a little bit more about the story behind each one.
Benezeri’s first studio album was titled “I’m Benezeri” and with the whole album already written while having only one instrumental from a friend called Titus Mawano, he thought funding for the project was assured since he’d won the 2011 Sprite National Rap Battle, but it never came.
He told the producer JT about his dream and even though he wasn’t fully satisfied with the instrumental JT had given him for his first single, he went ahead and recorded what came to be known as “Girls from Kampala”. After getting a taste of the positive feedback, he was hungry for more and JT convinced Enygma and Don MC to jump on the remix whose video was shot by Josh SB, then at Kampala Film School.
In January 2013, he recorded “Going in Hard” with Ruyonga on the instrumental from Titus, announced the date for his concert, going on to drop the single “Baby” featuring Code on Valentine’s Day as part of the build-up plus “Blest” with the singer Essie which was embraced by the urban gospel community and went on to be his most successful single from that album.
Around the same time, he bumped into the producer Izaya Mucunguzi in Mukono who sampled him his guitar skills along with a couple of his instrumentals at his hostel room and helped him get a full band for his concert at UGX70, 000 per member. He ended up producing a part of the album at Beni Ohelo’s (a schoolmate from Vienna College) home studio, going on to fill the house at Jazzville, even though some more established rappers had advised him against that venue choice.
Fast forward to his sophomore album “Champion”, Benezer had worked on a song called “Zuukuka” with Titus but the quality was lacking and after linking up with the activist Jackie Asiimwe and Helena Okiring, he secured funding for a new version produced by Allan Wasswa with a video shot by Edgar Kwesiga.
The song did very well, earning him a new label from some fans as a conscious rapper and propelling him into a network of NGOs, which enabled him to perform at numerous events including seminars, eventually making a little money for himself.
His close friend Izaya would go on to rework the instrumental and in January 2014, a part 2 of this song featuring Ruyonga and Big Tril was released followed by its video on Valentine’s Day. It would go on to become one of his most successful singles to date.
Benezeri followed it up with a tribute to his mum titled “Mama” which featured Sitenda who was returning from Tusker project Fame and was produced and recorded by Abaasa at his home studio. The writing process for this album was in full swing at this point, with “Mama” planned as one of the lead singles which saw him bring in over 500 people at the 2000-seater MTN Arena for the album’s show.
After this, Benezeri recorded a verse for the remix of Irene Ntale’s “Stay with Me” along with a controversial song called “Amama”. He later teamed up with Santana and Glen Fame for “Abeyo”, the first single off his 3rd album “Made in UG”, a song which dropped on November 30th 2014. This was followed by some hardships that he would only eventually overcome in August 2015 with the release of this single’s video.
During this time, he decided to make an album that was heavily influenced by Ugandan pop with a strong fusion of dancehall. He then teamed up with the winner of the Airtel Trace Star competition Sandra Suubi for a song called “Togwamu Suubi” produced by Sam Bisaso.
Benezeri then recorded “Ndi Wabulijjo”, a dedication to his parents for their 25th anniversary that featured Reazy and was produced by Ledra, a fellow UCU student. He released its 80s-themed video during his mini-tour titled “A Tale of 2 Cities” where he performed in Nkozi and Mukono.
He then collaborated with Kemishan on the track “Give Me love” produced by Ledra and after recording the bulk of the album at Porbell Drive Studio, he managed to bring about 200 people to the “Made in UG” concert at UMA Show Grounds with no financial backing from sponsors and much as he fell short of the 2000-people capacity of the venue, he still considers it a massive success because of the process and individual effort it took to put everything in place.
That folks, is as much as we can tell you about each of his albums for now so go check out his music here, share it and be on the look-out for our next piece on Benezeri this coming Friday.